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STEPNEY SISTERS Sign To Alcopop! Records

18th February 2021

Pioneering 70s feminist rock band the Stepney Sisters are delighted to announce that they have signed to Alcopop! Records.

Despite reuniting in 2010 after 34 years, the band have never put out an album— they will now finally be giving their self-titled debut album its long-awaited first release on 12th March 2021.

To celebrate the news, AA lead single ‘Sisters’/’Lonely Man’ is out now and available to stream on all good DSPs.

Stream and share: https://backl.ink/144796024

The self-titled album was recorded and mixed at Bluebarn Recording Studios in Ely, UK during summer 2010, and was engineered by Chris Taylor.

Indomitable punk power certainly runs in the family—guitarist Nony Ardill’s daughter Anya Pearson now performs in Alcopop! Records riot grrrl gang Dream Nails, as one mother’s musical legacy has materialised into a new wave of feminist fuelled outfits for the 21st century.

Commenting on the news, guitarist Nony Ardill said: “Who would have thought that the Stepney Sisters would release their first album after all these years? The record really is a living piece of feminist history. It still feels like family when we’re together as a band, and we are even more delighted by the fact we are signing to Alcopop!, the same record label as my daughter Anya.”

Anya Pearson, guitarist in Dream Nails, adds: “Words can’t express how proud I am of my mum and her bandmates—they were trailblazers in the truest sense! As one of the UK’s first feminist rock bands, the Stepney Sisters have always had a huge influence on my music making, especially in my own feminist punk band Dream Nails. When I was young, Mum taught me how to play guitar and encouraged me to start a band, and I grew up hearing stories of the Stepney Sisters’ exploits—feminist music has been around a lot longer than many people realise. I’m glad these feminist icons are getting the attention they deserve, not only for their huge cultural significance, but also for an album full of undiscovered bangers that deserves to be heard!”

Formed in 1975, the Stepney Sisters were one of the first in a rising wave of feminist groups in the UK, years before the likes of Au Pairs, Delta 5 or The Raincoats. With coverage in landmark second-wave feminist magazine Spare Rib, the group combined the Women’s Liberation Movement‘s mission with their righteous sound.

Commenting on the release, Alcopop! Records label boss Jack Clothier says: “It’s such a privilege and an honour to be a little part of helping shine a light on the Stepney Sister’s legacy, and Anya and the band have been so ace to work with. It’s kinda nice that my parents might well have been at their shows back in the ‘70s and even nicer to see the inter-generational punk torch being passed on to Dream Nails. Best of all though, getting this album out means you (and I) can listen to it over and over again. It’s so packed with feel good hits, powerful messages and wonderful melody. Enjoy, and thank you Stepney Sisters!”

Migrating to London after leaving York University, the band took their name from the Stepney squat where they lived and met. Their debut performance was at the Women’s Free Arts Alliance open week on Valentine’s Day, 1975. Bass player Benni Lees was the connection—she had been constructing a musical sculpture for the exhibition using various pieces of furniture and kitchen equipment; women would be invited to “play the instruments of their oppression”.

During an intense 18 months together the band performed nearly 50 gigs at benefits, conferences, pubs and festivals. Between them, they penned well over a dozen powerful feminist songs fuelled by a passionately DIY soul ethos.

“No-one was more amazed than we were that the Stepney Sisters took off in the way that it did,” admits Ardill. “It was a pivotal experience for all of us, both personally and musically.”

By 1976 the band’s momentum led to increasingly busy live schedules which began to take their toll on the members, who were juggling jobs, courses and childcare to boot. However, drummer Susy Hogarth’s recent motherhood didn’t stop them from touring—her baby would come along to Sisters gigs too. Ardill recalls a time when their roadie’s van caught fire on the way to a gig in Birmingham, also igniting the bottom of the bass speaker, casually explaining that they “doused the flames with a bottle of the baby’s milk.”

Playing their last gig on 2nd July 1976 at Maidstone College of Art ostensibly supporting a no-show Desmond Dekker, it was a huge hall with a very hostile, largely male, audience. “They had expected Desmond to be playing,” says Ardill, “and were highly dissatisfied about settling for the Stepney Sisters. ‘Middle class lesbians! Talentless posers!’ they heckled. ‘What’s wrong with being a lesbian?’ Caroline bravely shouted back through the microphone.”

The band’s debut self-titled album Stepney Sisters is released 12th March 2021 via Alcopop! Records.

Stepney Sisters tracklist:

1. Never Get To Heaven
2. Sisters
3. Hey Baby
4. Lonely Man
5. Knock On The Door
6. Family Song
7. Love Letter
8. Dying Ain’t No Life